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THE WONDER YEARS: REMEMBERING A CLASSIC TV SHOW

9 Aug

Recently I was traveling on a bus and found myself thinking of ways to kill the time between destinations.  Then it hit me…I have a smart phone…with Netflix!  titleSo there I was scrolling through everything the online streaming services has to offer.  There was Sharknado (an instant classic), Guilt Trip (Barbra and Seth Rogen…eh…shhh…I actually watched this later), Mad Men (can’t refuse Roger Sterling!), a documentary on eating grass or saving dolphins or Steve Jobs or something…and then I found it.  I had finally come across something that I knew, loved and would really enjoy….again.  The Wonder Years!!  That’s right…a little Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper would surely make this the most enjoyable bus ride ever!!

Before I knew, that recognizable theme song written by John and Paul but performed by Joe Cocker was blaring in my headphones:  “what would you do, if I sang out of tune….”.  Immediately I was transformed back to a place where my bed time is 9:30pm.  Where my little league games and school dances meant everything in the world!  Where sleepovers and talking on the phone turned into all night affairs.  

But as I started to watch this show, something strange happened.  Suddenly I was no longer watching it through the eyes of Kevin; as I did when I was younger.  But I was now watching it kevin and winniethrough voice-over Kevin…or the incomparable Daniel Stern.  You see, the first time I watched this show, as a kid, the things they were showing Kevin go through, I was going through many of those things at the same time.  So I remember the show being fun to watch because it related to my everyday life as a kid…just like Kevin’s (plus the fact that I kind of looked like him helped as well).  But now, now that I am 32, now I was reliving those same stories and memories…just like voice-over Kevin was…they were in my past….and I was feeling great nostalgia.  And this gave me a whole new experience of watching the show.  

I started with a classic episode of Kevin falling in love on a family vacation with a girl that was older…with a girl that he instantly clicked with…with a girl he would never see after that weekend.  kevin and caraI transitioned from there to the great ‘Lake’ episode…where we find a chain smoking teen name Cara (pronounced Car-a…remember her now?) falling in love with a 15 year old Kevin…and him falling in love right back.  And the episode ends, of course, with Kevin going right back to the real love his life:  the legendary Winnie Cooper.  Of course in between the adventures of teenage love we get a taste of a family growing up, growing apart and coming together again.  Along with the never ending friendship of Paul and Kevin and the times when we actually start to see our parents as real people and not just, well, not just our parents.  So as I was watching these terrifically crafted episodes, I was transported back to the days when I was a kid.  Thinking about family vacations.  Thinking about having crushes on girls and how I felt with just a simple kiss or conversation from them.  Thinking about getting together with friends and just causing trouble…thinking about the past and all the mistakes, successes, loves and friends & family along the way (I know, I know…its just a tv show…but you try it and tell me the connection you feel!).

(Cue in my voice-over for this paragraph please)…As I rode in that bus watching Kevin, Paul, Winnie, Wayne (Butthead) and the whole Arnold Clan, I started to think.  I went back to a time when summer vacations lasted a lifetime.  When the love a girl meant your whole world had changed for the better.  When friendships seemed like they would never end.  And you didn’t think about mortgages, medical bills, debt or unjust wars…your biggest concerns were what to wear to school the next day and wondering how to ask out that girl or boy you had a crush on…I mean do they even know you’re alive??

(Ok, end voice-over)….Never has a show really given me a whole new watching experience from kid viewing to adult viewing.  Sure I have rewatched plenty of shows that I used to watch when I was a kid.  But The Wonder Years…rewatching this show is something special.  So do yourself a favor, get on Netflix and watch The Wonder Years again!  kevin and pauls sisterEnjoy Kevin diving for Paul’s sister’s earring at her dance, that Jets jacket and the first kiss with Winnie after her brother dies tragically in the war.  Cringe when Becky Slater yells “friends, I’ll give you friends”.  Laugh along with all of Pual’s allergies and medications.  Enjoy the cameos by stars of today before they were stars (David Schwimmer, Juliette Lewis, Screech, Zach Morris, Robin Thicke, Jeremy Davies, Seth Green, among others).  And just let yourself be transported back to simpler times…back to times when our dreams felt within reach, worries didn’t exist and we had our whole lives in front of us to do everything and anything we wanted to do.  

And just remember, as the song goes:  “Oh I get by with a little help from my friends”.

The Wonder Years DVD

MY 2014 OSCAR WINNER PREDICTIONS

2 Mar

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Well hello out there fellow internet machine users.  I know its been way too long since my last post and I’m sure you all missed me so much…well all 5 of you that are regular readers.  Anywho, since I am a huge movie lover, and the Oscars are tonight, I I figured that I should jump on and post my Oscar predictions for some of the major categories…and I’ll keep it as short as possible.  Plus, for the first time since they expanded the best picture noms, I was actually able to watch all nine of them!  I did this not only because I have a hardcore passion for film, but because there are so many great movies out there these days and I don’t want to miss them.  From blockbuster action summer movies, to gorgeously shot indie films.  I just couldn’t miss these flicks any longer.  Oh and I was able to watch them all because I have no life…but that’s for another post.  So without an further delay, here are my 2014 Oscar Winner Predictions!  And I almost forgot, I am wearing a gorgeous grey hoodie, accompanied by dark grey warmup pants…all by Nike.  Just incase Joan Rivers is wondering….

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BEST PICTURE:  12 YEARS A SLAVE – There were so many good films to come out this year.  Including one of my favs that wasn’t nominated, Lone Survivor.  Nevertheless, this category is lined with all sorts of movies.  From movies with majorly witty dialogue, to action adventures, an outer space spectacle, low budget indies and emotionally charged storylines.  This year’s best picture category is truly versatile.  If you haven’t watched many films this year, do yourself and a favor and enjoy all nine noms in this category….there really is something for everyone.  Although Her and Dallas Buyers Club were my favorites this year, 12 Years features a great adapted screen play, terrific directing and a cast that showed their acting chops throughout this courageous story.

ImageBEST ACTOR:  MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY – Finally we were staring at McConaughey this year not because he was working out shirtless on the beach somewhere.  Did anyone have a hotter year?  From his work in tv’s True Detective, Mud, Killer Joe and his chanting in Wolf of Wallstreet, McConaughey took himself out of the ‘chick flicks’ pigeonhole and lofted himself right to the top of the acting charts.  And to top it all off, he transformed his body and his career by giving the world Ron Wood in DBC.  Ejiofor is a close 2nd, but the man from Dazed and Confused is taking home the gold.

ImageBEST ACTRESS:  AMY ADAMS – This one is a three person race between Adams, Blanchett and Bullock.  But in the end, Adams gets it!

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:  JARED LETO – Fassbender was character was terrible, but his acting was terrific.  However, in my opinion, Jared Leto, aka Jordan Catalano, gave one of the greatest supporting performances I have ever seen.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of him and the delicateness of his characters personality, mixed with the fire was an unreal combination that just put me in a trance when he was on screen.

ImageBEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:  JENNIFER LAWRENCE – Another great performance from the greatest young actress in the business.  I mean this girl is in her 20’s and she has three noms already!  June Squibb cracked me up in Nebraska, but Lawrence once again flexed her muscles in a film filled with A-Listers, and she was the brightest star shining.  Lupita Nyong’o could pull the upset…but only because she was ridiculous!

ImageBEST DIRECTOR:  ALFONSO CUARON – Whether you enjoyed this movie or not (most people either loved it or hated it), the directing was simply awesome.  Those shots were just…well…out of this world (pun intended!)!

ImageBEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: THE HUNT – Only because star Mads Mikkelsen is so good in Hannibal!

ImageBEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:  12 YEARS A SALVE – One word…powerful.  Before Midnight could pull the upset.

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BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:  AMERICAN HUSTLE  – Great story and should win…but I wish would be Her…Joaquin was robbed of a nom for best actor, so I hope this movie stacks up the awards in other categories.

ImageBEST ANIMATED FEATURE: FROZEN – Disney modern day classic gets the gold!

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WORST SNUB:  MICHAEL B. JOHNSON – I guess this movie was too small for a nom, or he just to unknown.  I don’t know what the reason is, but Vince from Friday Night Lights was spellbinding and deserved a nomination…just like my man Joaquin Phoenix!  Honorable mention…the late great James Gandolfini.  I missed Enough Said, but I have heard from multiple “experts” and my resident LA Film guru B Yok, that Tony Soprano was straight disrespected by not getting a supporting actor nomination.  Maybe we should send out Paulie Walnuts and Silvio to crack some skulls!!

Well that’s all for this year.  Enjoy your Oscar parties and remember…if you are in an Oscar pool, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing almost always go to the same movie.  Who do you think is going to win???  Enjoy the show!!

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THE NBA IS BACK!! MY 2013-2014 NBA PREDICTIONS!!

29 Oct

nba-logoWell kids, the NBA season is finally upon us…happy opening night!!  Last time we left the league, ‘Bron and company were hoisting Mr. O’brien’s trophy….again.  Well, what will this season bring.  For my predictions, I wanted to make it as simple as possible.  So, I am going to give you the teams that will make the playoffs, the conference winners and title winner….with only one reason why each will happen.  Enjoy this years picks and let me know who you think is taking home to title!!

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1.  MIAMI HEAT – Reason:  LeBron James.

2.  BROOKLYN NETS – Reason:  Added a more than serviceable Paul Pierce, KG, J. Terry and AK47 to a team already featuring Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, Reggie Evans, Andra Blatche and company…very deep, veteran squad.

3.  INDIANA PACERS – Reason:  Combining the now truly elite Paul George with the Roy Hibbert we saw in the playoffs = lots of wins and a deep playoff run.

4.  CHICAGO BULLS – Reason:  D Rose is back and this team might have been a D Rose away from winning the East last year.

5.  NEW YORK KNICKS – Reason:  If STAT is healthy, this team will challenge anyone in the conference.

6.  DETROIT PISTONS – Reason:  Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Brandon Jennings and Andre Drummond make up a very nice top four…and the East really falls off after the top 5 teams.

7.  CLEVELAND CAVALIERS – Reason:  Well first, there will be no ping pong magic next year Mr. Gilbert!  But the real reason is that this team has a very nice combo of young talent and savvy vets to crack the top 8…and if Bynum comes up back…the Cavs will be back on the NBA map!

8.  WASHINGTON WIZARDS  – Reasons:  A healthy backcourt of John Wall and Brady Beal will carry this team into the playoffs…and a chance to be swept by Miami.

WESTERN CONFRENCE

1.  SAN ANTONIO SPURS – Reason:  Because they are the best run NBA franchise in the last 25 years, that’s why!

2.  L.A. CLIPPERS – Reason:  This team is absolutely loaded after signing Jared Dudley, JJ Redick, Darren Collison, Antwan Jamison and even Byron Mullens…oh and a certain Glenn Rivers will make sure this team is ready to win every single night.

3.  OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER – Reason:  The emergence of Serge Ibaka will keep this team towards the top of the standing until Westbrook comes back from injury.

4.  HOUSTON ROCKETS – Reason:  They legitimately have 14 players that would be in anyone’s rotation…and the combination of Dwight Howard and James Harden will give this team the ability to finish anywhere between 1-4.

5. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS – Reason:  A healthy Andrew Bogut adds a new dimension to Steph Curry’s team.

6.  MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES – Reason:   Z-Bo and company have the pieces to compete every single night…but they are just not getting passed the top 5 in the conference this season.

7.  PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS – Reason:  Lilliard, Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Batum are a very solid four that will get help from a very nice bench that feature rookie CJ McCollum.

8.  DALLAS MAVERICKS – Reason:  Monta Ellis and Dirk will be able to share enough shot to just squeak into the playoffs over the Denver Nuggets.

CONFERENCE FINALS

EAST:  INDIANA PACERS over MIAMI HEAT – Heat because they still have the big 3 and Indy because if Granger ever stays healthy, he is the missing piece.

WEST:  L.A. CLIPPERS over HOUSTON ROCKETS – Both teams are overloaded with talent…and will both get past the Thunder and Spurs…but Clippers have just a little more.

FINALS

L.A. CLIPPERS over INDIANA PACERS – Great coaching and inside/outside talent that can surround CP3.  Congrats Clipper Nation you are no longer L.A.’s second team!!!

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TOP 10 SPORTS MOVIES OF ALL TIME

21 Sep

Top-10Some of the greatest movies of all time are sports movies.  They makes us cheer, laugh, cry and sometimes make us feel something inside that we never knew we could feel.  Like the scene where Adrian tells Rocky to “win” in Rocky II.  Or the motivational speech by Al Pacino’s character in Any Given Sunday:  “the inches we need are everywhere around us”.  Or Adam Sandler dancing on the green after defeating Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore.  Sports movies take us to a place when we were kids.  Or a place when we played catch in the yard with our fathers.  Or maybe even to a place where we did something great on our own teams.  Sports movies are a part of our culture that has last through generations before us, and will last through generations to come.  Here are my top 10 favorite sports movies of all time (in no particular order):

ROCKY:  Is there any doubt that this is one of the greatest movies of all time?  And let’s not forget Rocky II…parts of III…and Rocky IV.  Mickey, Paulie, that music, Sly Stallone…legendary.  Check out this scene from Rocky II if you want to feel chills:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTihNTFNOcc

FIELD OF DREAMS:  “Is this heaven?”  “No, its Iowa.”  If you’re a man, its NOT cool to say you didn’t cry during this movie.  Watch that scene where Ray and his father have a catch and I dare you to not pull the tissues out!  And gotta love Burt Lancaster!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_wnD6jxREU

HOOSIERS:  This movie will make you believe that anything is possible.  Also, has Gene Hackman ever given a bad performance or been in a bad movie?!?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ugkzk2l2ZpM

RUDY:  Rudy…Rudy…Rudy…I’m literally crying right now just thinking about watching Rudy run out onto that field!!  Charles S. Dutton with the five foot nothing, a hundred and nothing speech, the teammates giving up their roster spots and a little heavier version of John Favereau make this movie a gridiron classic!  “You ready for this?”  “I’ve been ready for this my whole life.”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TY0LUIIwo8k

PRIDE OF THE YANKEES:  A classic about the rise and tragic fall of a true American Icon:  Lou “Iron Horse” Gehrig.  Watch it for great acting by the Babe, but stay for one of the most famous speeches in American History!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbNrCxqxzgo

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN:  It has comedy, tears and everything inbetween.  Tom Hanks is brilliant as always and you have to cheer when Kit hits that high pitch for the game winner!  Come on Evelyn, you know there’s no crying in baseball!!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M8szlSa-8o

RAGING BULL:  Beautifully shot in black and white by Martin Scorsese.  Beautifully acted by Deniro, Pesci and company.  Raging Bull does not dissappoint!    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiVOwxsa4OM

MAJOR LEAGUE:  A hysterical sports comedy about an underdog team in one of the most underdog cities in the country:  Cleveland!  Great cast featuring Tom Berenger and Wesley Snipes.  But Roger Dorn and Pedro Cerrano steal the show!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGraAwtXbEQ

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY:  This movie is somewhat underrated.  It has a great cast and a great director in Oliver Stone.  The soundtrack really adds to the moments and Pacino’s speech could be and should be used in locker room across the country! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9CD7uj2TL0

THE NATURAL:  If you haven’t seen this movie, do yourself a favor and hit the old netflix up now!  Robert Redford is terrific as an aging ballplayer that makes the most of his last host at greatness.  Wonderboy, Wilfred Brimley as Pops and the music when the ball hits the lights…ah…so great!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i94ldGNNSQ0

*BLUE CHIPS:  Ok, so I had to add this movie as a bonus because it is a reminder of the golden days of the Orlando Magic!  Shaq and Penny and a preview to come!  I don’t see the Heat’s big three in any movie!  Plus, Nick Nolte is genius!!

What movies would you add???

TOP 10 SHOWS ON TELEVISION (AND ONLINE)

6 Aug

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With the recent announcement of the 2013 Emmy Award nominations, I thought it would be fun to go through what I think, in no particular order, are the 10 best shows on t.v. (and online) today!  Now of course I don’t and can’t watch every single show out there.  So this is just based on the shows that I watch…obviously.  Enjoy the list and let me know what some of your favorite shows are!!  Oh, one more thing…no reality t.v. on this list!

Joffrey's Name Day. A joust fight is in progress. Tyrion returns from battle . Intrp Ser Dontos.-GAME OF THRONES:  In my opinion, this is the greatest show out there today!  GOT is gripping, suspenseful, emotional and action packed.  Sure, it can be hard to follow since there are literally a million characters involved in each episode (ok, not literally).  But by the end of each Sunday night you are so wrapped up in what you just watched that you feel like you are part of the game yourself!  Plus, anything that combines Peter Dinklage and Dragons has to be good!!

mad men-MAD MEN:  With the final season coming next year, you can feel Mad Men definitely starting to wrap up.  However, this series continues to be packed with top notch writing and acting.  Don Draper will go down as one of the most admired and liked but most troubled characters in television history…and don’t bypass the comedic instances of a tremendous supporting cast…including my favorite, Roger Sterling – that silver haired son of a bitch!

new girl-NEW GIRL:  Ummm…hilarious!!  Watch this show…give it a chance…and enjoy laughing your ass off to Schmidt’s Shmerson and Mordecai baby names, Nick Miller’s angry rants and liking to men that smell of strong coffee and going to see a man about a horse (I could keep going with Nick quotes…”I want to kill you because I respect you…I think I understand hunting!”), Winston’s pranks that actually end in death, and Jess’ failed relationships, jobs, friends…ok she fails a lot.  But this show does not…watch it…and love it!!  Thanks for the advice Tran…you always have so much to say!

homeland-HOMELAND:  Well first you have Claire Daines just dominating the acting thing every single week (although her lip is always quivering with sadness).  Then you have Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride playing the calm and thoughtful Saul.  And to top it off, Captain Winters from Band of Brothers is the bad guy…or good guy…or bad guy….oh man, obviously this show is stressful, but kills it every time!

newsroom-THE NEWSROOM:  Aaron Sorkin’s latest show is right on par with everything he’s ever done.  Ok it might not be as memorable as “you can’t handle the truth”.  Or as quick and witty as Jed Bartlett’s West Wing.  But The Newsroom is a damn good show.  Jeff Daniels and crew bring out that famous Sorkin sarcasm that will keep you laughing and entertained.  Check out the episode “Fix You” to experience the true gambit of emotions this show can bring out in the viewer.

parenthood-PARENTHOOD:  The Braverman family takes you along for the ride as this family experiences the highs and lows that every family goes through.  Each week I find myself laughing and crying (and then getting mad at myself for crying to a show that Dax Shepard is in…although he is really good in this show) as emotions run high and you really feel touched after the hour is over.

modern family manny-MODERN FAMILY:  When you have a poetry reciting, lady loving 12 year old in Manny Delgado, drinking milk out of a courvoisier glass, a flamboyant ex-college football lineman singing showtunes, and a family man playing Clive Bixby in a hotel lobby, you know funny is happening.  Plus, Al Bundy is in this one!

ron-swanson

PARKS AND RECREATION:  Ron.  Swanson.  Enough said….ok well maybe not totally enough, but Swanson is one of the greatest characters in this history of television…non-arguable.  I mean he saves his money in gold, and says things like:  “Capitalism:  God’s way of determining who is smart and who is poor” and “Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets”.  “TREAT YOSELF” and watch this show!

the league rafi-THE LEAGUE:  Ok yes, this is a little bit of a “man’s show”.  But the crew in The League (including wife Jenny) is vulger, rude, sarcastic, selfish, terrible at friendship…and awesome for all of that.  And if you want to meet another hilarious character, go watch an episode with Rafi…the El Cunado that says things like…well…ok I can’t really put any of his quotes on here since this blog is on my resume….but go learn the way of life from Rafi on your own, and thank me later!

happy endings-HAPPY ENDINGS:  Ah-mah-zing, twinzies, Damon Wayans Jr., The Girl Next Door, Meax (Max with a Chicago accent), Dave’s v-necks, derahmaaaa, Steak Me Home Tonight, Penny Hartz, not needing a permit to drive a limo and so much more are in this show.  Unfortunately, this show’s entire audience consisted of me and the four others I turned into Happy Ending fanatics.  So now you have to catch this canceled gem online…do it now!!

The-Walking-Dead-04-cast-THE WALKING DEAD:  Every episode of this show leaves me wanting more, makes me feel like I was just punched in the face and makes me remember why I love this series!  This zombie filled program is really something special.  From the mentally messed up sheriff-hero and the pirate eye-patched governor to the walkers and their bloody kills, TWD is one of my favorites shows on television and has really come out of nowhere to be an instant success and cult classic!

I realize that was 11 shows and not 10…but I just couldn’t eliminate any of them!  Now stop being productive in your life and go watch these shows!!!